Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gonzalo Tiesi - World Class outside centre

At the Age of 19 Gonzalo Tiesi made his international debut for Argentina against South Africa in December 2004. Such was the talent shown by the centre at such a young age. Tiesi had impressed the national selectors playing for Northern Buenos Aires club, San Isidro (SIC) and for the Argentina under 19 team. His rapid rise to the national team was not only a result of his potential but also the fact that the international vs South Africa fell outside of the IRB´s test window. Two months latter he was in Wellington and Los Angles playing for the Pumas Rugby Sevens team in the IRB World Seves Series. His second test appearance came in April 2005 vs Japan the day before his 20th birthday in a match which featured the debut of Tiesi´s close friend Juan Leguizamón.

The bond was extended as both Tiesi and Leguizamón picked up professional contracts in England for the 2005-2006 season. They both signed for English Premiership club, London Irish and stayed there for three seasons. Tiesi had a successful time at Harlequins, scoring three tries for the western London side. Searching for more game time, however, Tiesi moved to the other side of the city to join the Harlequins on a two year deal from 2008-2010. At the Quins Tiesi indeed got more game time and played in bigger matches. He was a regular in he 13 shirt including in the sides Heineken Cup matches. But after two seasons, and five in total in England, Tiesi left for Paris to play in the Top 14 for Stade Français. His move to the Parisian club saw him link up again with Leguizamón as well as a number of other pumas players and getting plenty of game time at both outside and inside centre. He did have a season influenced by injury, however, but still played 16 matches for Stade Français.

As of June 2011, Gonzalo Tiesi has played 29 test matches for Argentina. He has faced a variety of opposition and has thus far scored eight test tries. He was Argentina´s first choice 13 in 2006 playing six tests against teams including Chile, England, New Zealand, Uruguay and Wales. He ran in two tries in one of the two tests agsint the Welsh which seemed to underline his potential. It was not to be such an easy ride, however, as Tiesi was injured playing against England in Argentina´s first tour test in November that year. He would not play international rugby again until Rugby World Cup 2007 in which he played three matches for Los Pumas and had injury concerns. He started matches agaisnt Georgia and Namibia, scoring a try against the Africans. Sicne France 2007, Tiesi has been Los Pumas first choice outside centre and has only missed out on selection when unavaliable through injury or club commitments. He has played only against European opposition during this period, including three tests vs England, three vs France, two vs Italy and five vs Scotland, for two tries. When he has been unavaliable, Argentina have not been the same and his challenge must now be to step forward to become one of the worlds premier centres, something he certainly has the ability to realize. He has, without question, taken control of the Pumas 13 shirt and has been impressive and with Rugby World Cup 2011 fast approaching, Tiesi is a player to watch out for and one with a lot to offer the global game as he is still only 26 years old.

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